The Vanguard School beats Cardinals 44-30 to take third-place title |

The Vanguard School beats Cardinals 44-30 to take third-place title

Grand Valley junior AbbyRose Parker in action last week against Colorado Academy.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Take away Hailey Blanchard’s killer instincts on offense, Grand Valley may’ve stood a chance.

To best the Cardinals 44-30 in the 3A third-place title game at University of Denver’s Hamilton Gymnasium on Saturday, The Vanguard School junior netted 23 points.

Meanwhile, No. 4 Grand Valley’s go-to offensive generators were kept relatively quiet.

Senior Bailey Radel saw some sparks but was muted to a respectable 11 points. Junior Jaycee Pittman, coming off a double-double performance against Platte Valley on Friday, chipped in 10 points. Junior AbbyRose Parker’s two three pointers notched her at 8 points.

After getting outscored 14-8 in the first quarter, Pittman started the second quarter connecting on a 3-pointer off the backboard. The downtown field goal drew the Cardinals within three points of the Coursers, 14-11.

Vanguard, however, answered back by going on a 10-2 run to close out the second quarter. With less than 3 minutes in the quarter, Blanchard hit a three-point field goal before coming back and chipping in two free throws after the Cardinals committed their 10th team foul.

The Coursers controlled a 24-13 lead at halftime, with Blanchard having so far scored 11 points.

Trying to prime their engines, Parker drained a 3-pointer to start the third quarter. The bucket pulled the Cardinals within eight points, 24-16.

But from there it turned into the Blanchard show. With 58 seconds in the third quarter, she had notched her 10th point of the frame with a bucket in the paint.

Radel answered back with two three-point buckets, but the score showed 42-22 going into the final quarter.

Parker and Radel scored two more three pointers in the fourth quarter, while Pittman netted another two points.

The loss means the Cardinals end the 2021-22 season with a 21-6 overall record and fourth-best bragging rights in all of 3A Colorado.

Grand Valley’s triumphant run was filled with adversity. At one point, the Cardinals found themselves sitting in third place in the 3A Western Slope League before rallying to finish the regular season with two big league wins over Coal Ridge and Gunnison.

The Cardinals would later knock out Buena Vista and Colorado Academy to punch their ticket to the state tourney.

The real thriller came when the Cardinals knocked No. 12 St. Mary’s out of the Great 8 with a close 52-50 win Thursday.

Friday, however, saw the Cardinals lose momentum and suffer a 52-33 semifinal round loss to Platte Valley.

Cardinals now lose seniors Kaylie Stark, Katie Ray, Julia Gronewaller and Radel.

Go-to players coming back to the court next season for the Cardinals are Aryaa Tanner, Kaylae Medina, as well as Parker and Pittman.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

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